Graphics and Sound
Weíre gonna party like itís 1999
For a PC game, GTA3 looks outdated. This is a general problem with games that are ported from consoles Ė most of the time the developers donít bother with taking advantage of what PCs offer. For starters, the models lack detail, directly stemming from a low polygon count. The people models remind me of Half-Life or other games that came out around í98-Ď99. They have very blocky limbs and faces, and you see a lot of gaps between parts. In the same vein, GTA3 doesnít take advantage of a PCís ability to have higher quality textures. Everything looks grainy and low-resolution, even from a distance. The bigger objects like billboards and sides of buildings make this very obvious.
It doesnít stop there however, there are lots of little things left over from the PS2 engine that makes GTA3 feel like a console game rather than a PC game. Thereís a silly motion blur that tricks your brain to think there are more frames per second than there really are. If you make all the edges blurry, itís harder to tell when the frame rate drops and skips a frame or two. I can tell they did this for the PS2 version because in a fast driving game like this, where a lot of polys are moving very quickly, you donít want to see frames dropping. Itís a slick trick, but for a hard core PC gamer itís just annoying. Remember a few years ago when the graphics card manufacturers were boasting their new motion-blur technologies? It was a hot topic, but itís since faded away because everyone realized that motion blur sucks. No one wants to be shooting at someoneís motion trail.
Liberty City really impressed me by making sure that no two street corners are alike. You can walk up and down every street in the game and never see the same building twice. Everything from the storefronts to the office buildings is unique, giving the city lots of character. Each borough has its own style, from swanky upper class mansions to chinatown grocery stores to industrial factories. It makes you want to explore every inch of the city just to see what youíll find (one of the major gameplay elements). This also helps you get around the city by allowing you to memorize landmarks and relative placements. When it comes time to duck into a paint shop to lose the pigs you know exactly where you need to go.
Youíre listening to Liberty City RadioÖ
Listening to the radio stations is reason enough to play GTA3. Theyíre absolutely hilarious. The radio spoofs everything, from the genres of music to the lame DJís that fill the airways. The music is pretty good, even while it pokes fun at itself. The DJís (especially Lazlo) crack me up with never-ending jokes and smart ass remarks. Chatterbox alone will have you in stitches long enough to forget to swerve around that old lady in the middle or the road (or not). The commercials make you wish these guys would make a comedy CD full of them.
The sound effects are just as good as the music. Besides the car crashing and people yelling at you, the voice acting is top-notch Ė probably because theyíre done by real Hollywood actors. People like Joe Pantoliano (Memento, The Sopranos), Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs), and Kyle MacLachlan (Showgirls, every David Lynch movie ever) make GTA3 feel like youíre in a gangster movie rather than a video game. I thought I recognized some of the voices while I was playing, but I didnít truly think the voices came from the real actors. It wasnít until I end credits that I realized these were real actors.